BYU AdLab Helps Hospital-Bound Kids Play Pokémon GO

Pokemon Go

(This article was originally found at Meridian Magazine.)

When Pokémon GO exploded in mid-July, news articles and social media posts appeared encouraging players to drop “lure modules” that attract pokémon at local hospitals. By dropping these modules, children confined to the building could have a chance at catching something.

Though well-intentioned, these good deeds resulted inproblems for hospitals nationwideas the lures attracted outside players who would trespass onto helipads, invade the privacy of recovering patients, or otherwise impede the hospital’s ability to function. Many hospital systems have since outlawedPokémon GO on their campuses.

For 9-year-old Cameron Talbot, Pokémon GO was just one more thing he couldn’t participate in. Cameron is a cancer patient at Primary Children’s Hospital and leaving the hospital in search of elusive pokémon isn’t an option.

But students from the BYU AdLab have developed a solution to the ban on Pokémon GO—they have designed an experiential platform that enables sick or disadvantaged children to play Pokémon GO with the help of a volunteer who acts as the child’s feet.

They’ve named the platform “Go for Good” and partnered with Primary Children’s Hospital to bring the game to the bedside of hospital-bound kids.

Here’s how it works: Using screen-sharing technology, Go for Good puts the experience of exploring the city or neighborhood while looking for Pokémon in the lap of kids who can’t chase them on their own. Patients simply log on to the Go For Good site on a laptop, schedule a proxy player and interact with that player through voice and video commands to play the game.

The volunteer player can travel to Pokémon GO hotspots that would otherwise be inaccessible for hospitalized kids. The player and the volunteer don’t even have to be in the same city.

“So many of our patients want nothing more than to get outside, be active and do the things other kids their age are doing,” says Katy Welkie, CEO of Primary Children’s Hospital. “This partnership with the BYU AdLab and Go for Good will allow our patients to feel normal again, to interact with something fun and exciting and to spend some time doing something that’s not related to their health or medical condition.”

For Cameron, it means working with his older brother Dillon and sending him out to “catch ‘em all.”

By the numbers, Pokémon GO has soared to the top of popular mobile media lists.

(Read the rest of the article at Meridian Magazine.)

Katie is an intern editor and writer for LDS.net. She recently graduated from Utah State University with a degree in English and served a mission in the African countries of Zambia and Botswana. She enjoys stories, chocolate, and traveling.